Two bills that would have affected the tax status of YMCAs and private health clubs in Kansas appear to be dead for the session. As KPR’s Stephen Koranda reports, some health club owners say they face unfair competition from YMCAs, which are non-profit organizations that don’t pay property taxes.
There are two bills in question. The first would make private health clubs in Kansas tax exempt, the same as YMCAs. The second would make YMCAs pay property taxes. Charlie Lord, with the Topeka YMCA, says paying property taxes could close them down. He says YMCAs offer community services that private health clubs don’t.
“We’re the leading provider of youth sports in the area, we’re the leading provider of swim lessons, we’re the leading provider of child care. Those are areas that the health clubs don’t get into,” says Lord.
One of the main supporters of making health clubs tax exempt is Rodney Steven, owner of Genesis Health Clubs. He has donated more than $60,000 total to the campaigns of dozens of lawmakers. The chair of the House Tax Committee says they’ve tabled one of the bills and he won’t bring the other up for a vote. That means both bills are likely done for this year.
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Some legislators raised concerns that giving health clubs a property tax exemption could lead to a cascade of other businesses seeking similar exemptions.